Crew SC Likely to Stay in Columbus
Nearly one year ago today, news officially broke that Columbus Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt of Precourt Ventures was planning to relocate the Columbus Crew to Austin, Texas.
Today, Sports Illustrated confirmed the rumored news that the team would be able to stay put through a change in ownership. Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and a Columbus-based ownership group (that includes The Columbus Partnership and Pete Edwards, Jr.) would purchase the team from Precourt. Precourt would then be freed up to launch a new team in Austin.
The news represents a major step forward for the team, but shouldn’t be seen as a 100% done deal.
“We are optimistic about our recent conversations with MLS regarding the the potential sale of the operating rights of the Columbus Crew,” stated Columbus Partnership President Alex Fisher. “While there are many details to be worked out, our alliance is working diligently and collaboratively with with League to keep the Crew in its community. We are very excited about the quiet but deliberate progress that has been made to date and will keep the community updated as the process moves forward.”
A statement from Dee and Jimmy Haslam was made that echos a similar cautious optimism:
“We value and appreciate the benefits a professional sports franchise can bring to a community and are hopeful to be a part of the solution to keep the Crew in Columbus. We would invest in a strong infrastructure within the Crew organization so that we can continue our focus and commitment to building a winning Cleveland Browns football team in Northeast Ohio. We look forward to seeing how this process evolves.”
The announcement also mentions that a new Downtown stadium would be a part of the plan, though no site has been selected and details are still forthcoming.
“This is great news for the City of Columbus,” stated Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. “As I have said repeatedly over the past year, the Crew SC belongs in Columbus. There are many details to work out, but I am grateful for the Columbus Partnership, Dee and Jimmy Haslam, Pete Edwards, Jr. and all of the loyal fans.”
This story is still developing and will be updated as details emerge.
Full MLS Statement on Columbus:
“Major League Soccer and the Columbus Partnership have been working together for several months on a plan to keep Crew SC in Columbus and we have made significant progress.
Recently, the Haslam Family – along with the Columbus-based Edwards Family, have joined the effort to keep Crew SC in Columbus.
MLS, the Columbus Partnership and the investor group all agree that for the club to be successful in Columbus, it requires strong local partners, long-term corporate support, a strong season ticket base and long-term plans for a stadium, practice facilities and associated sites.
MLS is committed to keeping Crew SC in Columbus should we continue to make progress on these critical components and agree to key terms with the investor group.
MLS recognizes the cooperation Precourt Sports Ventures has demonstrated throughout the process to date.
MLS also remains very committed to PSV’s plan to launch an MLS club in Austin and is excited for Austin to become a great addition to MLS. We will continue to work with PSV and the City of Austin on the timing around the launch of Austin FC.”
Full MLS Statement on Austin:
Major League Soccer is excited to move forward in Austin with Precourt Sports Ventures and their vision for Austin FC. Regardless of any scenario in Columbus, there is a clear path forward for PSV to operate Austin FC as a Major League Soccer club.
The strong support from Austin’s corporate community, government officials and passionate soccer fans is impressive. Austin is a flourishing, dynamic city that presents a great opportunity for MLS, and we look forward to finalizing plans to become the first major league team in the capital of Texas.
While timing for Austin FC is still to be finalized, we are confident that the team will begin play no later than 2021 at the new, privately financed stadium and soccer park at McKalla Place. We applaud the Austin community, city leaders and Precourt Sports Ventures for their commitment to making this happen.”
Joint Statement from the Columbus Partnership, Pete Edwards, Jr. and Dee and Jimmy Haslam:
“We are excited to jointly announce that the Columbus Partnership along with a local investor group led by Pete Edwards, Jr. and Dee and Jimmy Haslam have formed an alliance to continue the collaboration with Major League Soccer to keep the Crew in Columbus.
We are optimistic about our recent conversations with MLS regarding the potential sale of the operating rights of the Columbus Crew.
While there are many details to be worked out, our alliance is working diligently and collaboratively with the League to keep the Crew in its community. We are very excited about the quiet but deliberate progress that has been made to date and will keep the community updated as this process moves forward.”
A Timeline of the #SaveTheCrew Movement:
- October 2017 – Crew Owner Threatens to Relocate Team to Austin
- November 2017 – Two City Parks on the Table for Crew Stadium Relocation
- March 2018 – Lawsuit Filed to Keep The Crew in Columbus
- March 2018 – #SaveTheCrew Movement Unveils Fan-Made Jersey Design
- May 2018 – #SaveTheCrew Pens Open Letter to Future Columbus Crew SC Owners
- July 2018 – Save The Crew Surpasses 10,000 Ticket Pledges for 2019 Season in Columbus
- August 2018 – Save the Crew Releases Downtown Stadium Concept